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The Best LED Camping Lanterns for After Dark

an orange and black camping lantern lit up and resting on dark, mossy groundExplorer and conservationist John Muir may have thought that rolling up some bread, tea, sugar, and a tin cup between two blankets was all the prep he needed for a wilderness trek, but these days, we can bring a lot more comfort and safety to our hiking and camping without much more fuss.

LED lighting is a modern backpacking and camping essential—with it, you’re prepared to navigate your food prep after dark, make it to the bathroom without stumbling or falling, or find what you’re looking for at the bottom of your pack. Here are some LED camping lights we recommend.

What to Look For in LED Camping Lanterns

There’s a lot to consider when purchasing LED lights for camping. Size and weight are top priorities, especially if you’re backpacking to your campsite. A hook, handle, or stand should be part of the lantern’s design for hands-free use. You also need to know what power source the lantern uses and how long that source will last. A lantern’s ability to withstand rugged use, especially its ability to withstand dust and water, is essential information in judging its utility for your camping needs. It’s also good to know if a camping lantern offers multi-use options.

Brightness is another important consideration when buying a LED lantern, whether for camping or emergency use, measured in the standard SI unit known as a lumen. To give you an idea of how to understand lumens as a measure of a lantern’s brightness, a 100-watt incandescent bulb, a 22-watt LED bulb, or a 26-watt CFL bulb that you would use at home emits 1600 lumens. The brightness you need will depend on how important other factors are to you. You may get fewer lumens, for example, if your highest priority is a lantern that is lightweight.

Best Overall: AYL Starlight 1000 LED Camping Lantern

This lantern has 46 LED bulbs that give you 360-degree lighting with extreme brightness—1800 lumens—in four different light modes, daylight, warm white, both daylight and warm light, and flash mode. Using three D batteries, this lantern can last up to 72 hours. It’s water, dust, and shatter resistant. Measuring 3.75 inches in diameter and 7.25 inches high, it weighs only one pound.

Best Durable: d.light S30 Portable Solar Lantern

This light has a portable yet sturdy design that works well for carrying, hanging, or standing. It has a 12-hour light-life on a full charge and uses a single Lithium battery charged by a solar panel or by an AC charging port (included). Providing 360-degrees of lighting with two brightness settings, this lantern can emit up to 60,000 hours of light throughout its lifetime. It weighs under half a pound and measures 7 inches at its highest point. Weather- and UV-resistant, this sturdy and dependable product has a life expectancy of over five years.

Most Compact: LuminAID PackLite Nova USB Solar Inflatable Lantern

This USB solar inflatable lantern is 4.72 x 4.72 x 4.72 inches when it’s blown up, but it collapses to a height of one inch when deflated, and it weighs less than half a pound. It offers three brightness settings with run times depending on the setting you choose: 75 lumens (3-5 hours), 50 lumens (6-8 hours), and 25 lumens (12-14 hours). The 1000 mAh Lithium battery can be charged by the lantern’s solar panel or by USB. It’s waterproof, shatterproof, and safe and easy for kids to use.

Best Mini Design: ThorFire CL01 2-in-1 USB Flashlight/LED Camping Lantern

When compressed, here is a flashlight that fits into the palm of your hand. When extended, you have a lantern that gives you 125 lumens on high and 30 lumens on low. Its built-in 300 mAh Lithium battery is charged by USB (included) or by using its hand crank, which can also be used to charge your phone or any other USB device. After one minute of cranking at 90 times a minute, the light will run for 15 minutes on high mode or 20 minutes on low mode. Extended dimensions are 3.9 x 3.9 x 3.9 inches and the product weighs half a pound.

Lisa Walenceus Lisa Walenceus
Lisa Walenceus has 20 years of research and writing experience as an educator, news reporter, and freelancer. She writes to learn and digs deep to find how things work. Read Full Bio »
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